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January 12 - St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordJanuary 12, 2021
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today's readings are Hebrews 2: 5-12; Psalm 8; Mk. 1: 21-28

St. Marguerite's life is one of persistence and faith.  Born in Troyes, France, she grew up in a middle class family, the seventh of 13 children. At the age of 20, Marguerite felt the call to serve the Lord during a procession of Our Lady of the Rosary.  Working with the sodality of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, in the year 1653 Marguerite accepted the invitation of the Governor of Ville-Marie (now Montreal) to come to New France to found a school in Ville-Marie.

Once there, Marguerite quickly got to work.  She founded the first church of Montreal, The chapel of Our Lady of Good Hope (Bonsecours) as well as its first school.  With the arrival of the Filles du Roi, beginning in 1663, the Marguerite and her fellow sisters built a residence for these young women who had been recruited to come to New France to marry and through their children expand the population of New France.  

The Bishop of New France was not happy with the idea of a group of uncloistered nuns, who lived with and amongst the people, and he tried to ensure that they were cloistered.  Marguerite travelled back to France were she obtained letters patent from King Louis XIV to ensure that the congregation could be a group of secular nuns.  

In her final years Marguerite ceded leadership of the sisters in Montreal, and died on this day in 1700.  The day after her death, a priest wrote, "If saints were canonized as in the past by the voice of the people and of the clergy, tomorrow we would be saying the Mass of Saint Marguerite of Canada." 

In 1982, Marguerite was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II.

Her legacy of caring for and educating people continues on in the work of the sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame which has had such a presence in Canada.

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, pray for us!